Title: Y is for Yearning
Fandom: Harry Potter
Twelve years in Azkaban. Twelve years with no one but Dementors and the occasional visitor passing by. Twelve years hearing no friendly words, just mutters and screams from fellow prisoners. Twelve years of missing friends who had become family to him. Twelve years of knowing everything that had happened was his fault.
Sirius woke with a yell, sitting up straight, at once terrified by his unfamiliar surroundings.
Remus came running down the stairs in his bare feet, tripping on the second-to-last step, catching himself on the banister, and sprinting into the room with his wand out. His breathing was heavy, eyes wide, heart pounding so hard Sirius could hear it. “What’s the matter? Who’s here?”
“Just me,” Sirius said, but with his stuffy nose it came out more like “Just be.”
It took Remus a few moments to calm down, to trust that it was just the two of them in his two-story cabin. Then he walked over to the couch. “Another nightmare, Pads?”
Sirius seemed far away. His answer was an answer, but was spoken more to himself than to Remus. “Cad you call it a dightbare whed you lived it?”
Remus settled himself on the arm of the couch. He took one look at Sirius’ nightshirt and noticed it practically dripping with sweat. “I’m going to go get you a change of pajamas. Okay?”
Sirius looked up at him, eyes focusing and unfocusing on the clear then blurry man before him.
“Right. I’ll be right back.”
When Remus got back, Sirius was in the exact same place, same position, but with his eyes closed. Remus reached out, placing a hand on his shoulder, and Sirius shrieked, jumping in fright. He pulled back into the corner of the couch, hugging his bent legs to his chest.
“I’m sorry.” Remus sat down on the couch and showed Sirius his hand. “It’s me. It’s Moony. Remember?”
Sirius remembered. He couldn’t forget. Twelve years of remembering Remus. Remembering his touch. But Remus’ hand was different now. There were more lines, more scars. It was Remus he had yearned for, but this wasn’t the Remus he expected.
“I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just going to get you into some nice warm pajamas and dry sheets. You’ll be more comfortable. And then I’ll sit with you and we’ll try to lower that fever of yours. Okay?” Remus nodded and, a few seconds later, Sirius nodded as well.
The next time Remus touched him, Sirius flinched, but just a little. He lifted Sirius’ nightshirt and stripped it off. Sirius shivered and instinctively moved closer to Remus. Then he stopped, pulled back, kept his distance.
Remus bit his lower lip and held out a clean white t-shirt. “Do you need me to…” Sirius was out of it, not quite taking hold of the shirt. “All right,” Remus said. “I’ll help.” He tried to avoid looking at Sirius’ body, and Sirius noticed that. This wasn’t his Remus anymore. This Remus had been through things, been changed. This Remus no longer thought of Sirius as a lover. This Remus made him sleep on the couch when he was sick, instead of cuddling up to him in bed. Thus Remus would rather put pajamas on him than feel him up.
Very carefully, Remus guided Sirius up off the couch and balled the sheets up. He laid fresh ones down on the couch and changed the pillowcase. It was a cool summer night, but by the time he was done, Remus looked flushed as well.
“I’ve got potions for you,” Remus said, making sure Sirius lay back down. “They’ll get rid of your congestion and lower your fever.” Then Remus left again and Sirius turned his face into the pillow. He shouldn’t have come to Remus. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be.
A cool cloth was pressed against his forehead. And Sirius looked up to find a small bottle in front of his face. “Drink this, Pads. You’ll feel better.” Sirius drank. He coughed, but drank and managed to swallow it all down.
Then he looked up at Remus, eyes wide. “Would you stay with be?” He coughed and rubbed at his nose. It was starting to run again. It had been so stuffy all day, but the congestion seemed to be shifting now. He was going to start sneezing again pretty soon, most likely. “I dow you dod’t love be adybore, but I could use…”
“Is that why you think you’re down here?”
“Of course.” Confusion clouded his head like the fever he could already feel slipping away. When Dumbledore had told him to go lay low at Remus’ place, Remus had welcomed him in with a hug and pulled back as soon as Sirius had sneezed. The trek there as a dog had chilled him to the bone and Remus had wrapped him in a warm comforter and set him up on the couch.
“You’re down here because this is where the fireplace is. It’s warmer than upstairs and closer to the kitchen and bathroom. Plus it doesn’t require stairs. You probably don’t remember, but you were such a mess when you got here. I wasn’t sure you’d even make it through the night, let alone navigate the stairs. You were too weak for apparation.” He reached out and ran a hand over Sirius’ forehead. “But if you’re feeling better, you can go upstairs. I’ll tuck you into my bed.”
“Bless. I’ll tuck you into my bed with a big box of tissues. How would that be?”
Sirius hesitated, the confusion still there. “I thought… whed you did’t kiss…”
“I didn’t kiss you because you’re ill. I can’t take care of you if I’m feverish and sneezy too.”
A few minutes later, Sirius was upstairs in bed with tissues and with Remus. Remus lay on his back, Sirius snuggled up to his side, head on Remus’ chest. In one of Remus’ hands there was a tissue, the other stroked Sirius’ head. “I missed you so much, Sirius. You have no idea. Even sleeping upstairs away from you was painful.”
“Really? You still…”
“I still love you. Never really stopped, though I tried a hundred times to talk myself out of it. I thought you’d betrayed us. I thought you were responsible for James, Lily, and Peter’s deaths. But I still wanted you. Sometimes I wanted you so I could kill you myself. Other times I wanted to kiss you. And other times I just wanted it to be liked it used to.” Bending his neck, he kissed the top of Sirius’ head.
Sirius fell back to sleep. And when he woke up again, after another dream of Azkaban, he didn’t recognize the room but did recognize the arms around him. This was the Remus he had yearned for.